A Sneak Peek at Maddie’s 1st Birthday Party

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I have been super busy with planning Maddie’s party. As always, I probably have taken on a lot more than one control freak can handle. I just can’t help it!
So far the list includes:
– Personalized Invitations (designed by me, printed by VistaPrint)
– Handmade hot air balloon centerpieces
– Handmade party hats
– Photo book of Maddie’s 1st year to use as a guest book
– Photo gallery of Maddie’s best pics
– Candy buffet
– Homemade cupcakes
– Homemade cakepops
– And a few handmade gifts!
sheesh – I’m tired just looking at this list!
luckily though, I’ve gotten almost everything done.

I’ll post pictures after the party actually happens – if all goes well! I’ll also include tutorials on how to make everything too.

I’m Back!

Sooooo it’s been quite a while since I last posted. The good news is that I’ve been so busy with my partner in crime (aka Madeline) but the bad news is, I have hundreds of pictures to go through and so many stories to tell. I don’t really even know where to start.
I guess I’ll start where I left off, with our visit from cousin Brookie. Prior to her coming, I had this grand vision of getting all of the “grandkids” dressed up and perfectly posed to get that once in a lifetime shot. Sounds easy enough right? Well, we had some minor issues but in the end I think I got some pretty good photos – good enough for my mom at least?!? Hopefully?
So here are some of my best shots of the day.
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Here are some tips when photographing kids outdoors:
– DON’T take the photos at 11am in August (in Florida specifically)
– If you are brave enough to do so however, make sure you have a shady spot nearby in case someone needs a little relief (continue on below)
– Keep water on hand
– Make sure you have noisy things to get the babies attention and looking up at the camera
– Have an idea of composition before you take the photo
– Get your camera settings ready prior to schlepping all of the kids outside
and most importantly – Good Luck!

Lazy Sundays

Daddy’s home! Today was such a lazy day for us. Luckily, Sundays usually are. We ate a yummy breakfast of oatmeal with raisins, honey, and cinnamon, and my very favorite – homemade banana/pumpkin muffins and fresh fruit! As you can see, it’s Maddie’s favorite too. After breakfast, we decided to watch Arthur Christmas and Maddie fell asleep on my chest (which I was loving because she never likes to cuddle with momma!).
I have such awesome friends and family – this summer I received three home-grown pineapples and they were so delicious. They’re my absolute favorite.
We had a very exciting visit from Cousin Brookie (my lovely niece). Maddie helped me make her a welcome card to go with her beach towel and sunscreen (which she didn’t use, ahem). She is definitely my child, I look this excited when I’m using art supplies too!

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday Breakfast

Sleepy Maddie

Sleepy Maddie

Yummy Pineapple

Yummy Pineapple

exciting art supplies

exciting art supplies

welcome gift for cousin Brookie

welcome gift for cousin Brookie

Fun-filled days

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So I am really starting to miss my hubby (he is out of town for work).
Here’s a few reasons why:
I didn’t realize how much I (physically) depend on him (read below*).
It’s nice to cook for more than one (and a half people).
I have made a habit out of taking an insignificant thing and turning it into and episode of CSI.
Also, nights are a little difficult as I lay in bed and the pain starts to creep into my back*. It’s just another reminder that he isn’t there lying next to me.

Days have been great though, I fill them up with plenty of things to keep us busy. The only thing that makes me a little sad is the fact that he isn’t here to enjoy our adventures together. I know, I should stop my whining, it’s not like he’s been gone for very long. It will be a week tomorrow and he should be back by the weekend. It makes me so sad for the military wives/husbands out there, bless there souls – I don’t know how they do it.

Well this weekend was no exception to our fun-filled schedule, after I figured out that she wasn’t really sick (I swore she had caught her cousin Charlotte’s illnesses). Saturday we went to story time at Barnes & Noble. Highly recommend! She loved it! She also got a new book, “Little Blue Truck Leads the Way”. Then it was off to Aunt Michelle’s house where she played with her cousins and Grandma and had a blast. After that we made a stop at my in-laws for a small birthday celebration. It was Grandma and Uncle Bob’s Birthday but somehow we walked away with new toys, new clothes, and half of the red velvet ice cream cake from Coldstone Creamery! (hey, I’m not complaining!)
Sunday was much more laid back. We hung out at the house, watched movies, read our new books and just took it easy. Oh and we found a new favorite spot – the laundry basket! Dinner was easy, just leftover spaghetti and meatballs, salad and homemade sweet potato & chicken for Maddie. Perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
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Craft day Tuesday – animal topper jars

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So my great friend Carrie comes over on Tuesdays, occasional, and we usually have a great time, either baking, crafting or just chatting. We are HUGE fans of Pinterest (okay, addicted really) and we have seen DIY’s for these cute spray painted animals. Well we finally got around to making this craft and it was so simple! Luckily she provided the spray paints and the animals. I took it one step further and made these cute storage jars by gluing them on top. I had picked up a bunch of random animals and dinosaurs at the dollar store but they proved to be too large for the jars that I have been hanging on to for quite sometime (I think they were happy to finally have a purpose!). Not to worry about the extras, I have plans for them for Maddie’s birthday party – yes it involves gold spray paint, if you were wondering.

For this craft, here is the list of things you will need:
Empty jars
Plastic animals (she got the ones we used at a craft store)
Spray paint
Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
Carrie also has great plans for her fish friend – he is getting a super-glossy paint job that she was going to finish at home. I’ll have her send me a picture when it’s complete and share it in another blog post.

I can’t wait to fill my jars up. I’m thinking craft supplies but they would also be great at a party filled with candy, you can use them in the kitchen for cupcake liners and decorations or even in the bathroom for cotton balls, Q-tips, and what-not!
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This is how Maddie helped

This is how Maddie helped


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awesome friend Carrie

awesome friend Carrie

fish buddy gets a makeover

fish buddy gets a makeover

hipster jungle friends

hipster jungle friends


Waiting to be filled...

Waiting to be filled…

Paper Doll Garland – super easy craft!

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Yesterday, as I was looking through the (mostly junk) mail, I stumbled upon this small JCPenney catalog. And, although I am not a huge fan of theirs (for emotional reasons), I did find the aesthetic of this advertisement very pleasing – not to mention the outfits and the children were adorable and oh so fashionable. I was going to cut out just one of the models to hang on to for future reference when I am looking for a cute outfit idea for Maddie. But then I just kept cutting and pretty soon I had five little people staring up at me! What to do, what to do? I’ve got it-paper dolls! Hmmm, this poses a small problem, you see I am too old to play with them and if I give them to Madeline, she will appreciate them for about three seconds before they succumb to their demise, a snack! This sweet baby of mine seems to have no discretion when putting objects in her mouth! So then I was looking around her nursery and was admiring some of her d├ęcor. That’s when it hit me, paper doll garland! Yes! Perfect! and the best part, I already have all the materials I need to complete the project.
All you need are the following items:
Paper dolls, animals, or some other item that has a nice silhouette
Scissors
Bakers Twine
Clear Thumbtacks
Mini Clothespins
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Have Baby, Will Travel (road trip style)

2013_packingIt can be done! We just got home from our 4 night, 5 day vacation-our first official family vaca. I have to admit I was a skeptic to begin with. I thought, there is no way one can travel for 3+ hours with a baby who just started liking solids again and the only way she will drink her milk is directly from the tap (I’m talkin’ from the boob only people!) So I’m here to share with you today, how this seemingly mythical scenario can come to fruition and be enjoyable at that.
Can I just start off by saying that it helps having an amazing baby, an awesome partner, and being super organized (okay, really on the verge of OCD).
First of all I planned out every day that we were going to be gone, including what/where we were eating, and where/when we would stop to eat, and sleep, activities and attractions. This itinerary was really in place to guide us through our vacation not necessarily dictate our every move. I knew there were things that we wouldn’t be able to do and things that we would discover at the last minute; such as the Florida Aquarium in Tampa(one of my favorite things during our trip!). Microsoft Word actually has some pretty decent Vacation Itineraries or you can always make your own using Excel or hand write (like I did) using a simple calendar page.
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Packing was interesting, it seemed like I had my stuff together the night before only to realize the next morning I was rushing around like a crazy person trying to gather last minute things that I thought we may have needed. In hindsight, I should have had everything ready to go, piled next to the door (or even better, in the car), so we could be cool, calm and collected during our departure – I can assure you, we were not any of those things. This got the trip off to a bad start, we were moody, it was pouring and we were ready for the trip to end before it even started! Not to worry, it wasn’t anything a little old school WHAM couldn’t cure. We even had Maddie dancing! My advice, start packing a week or two before you’re scheduled to leave.

For Maddie’s things, I find it easier to use a tote rather than a bag, things are more easily accessible (this probably won’t work so well if you are flying). And for her toys, I used a backpack. I read somewhere to pack each outfit in a Ziploc baggie but I just couldn’t see wasting all that plastic so I improvised. The bundle of yarn cost $2.50 and I hardly used any of it, it worked out perfectly and Maddie loves to play with the cut pieces. It was a perfect solution to contain each of her outfits. Also, the things I didn’t bundle, I rolled. I do this for my stuff and now my husband does it when he packs his suitcase too. I think it really is a space saver.

In summary, my husband and I decided that there were things we should have left at home:
I brought way too many diapers-in my defense I had no clue how many she would use b/c I had never traveled this length of time with her
I should have brought my manual breast pump considering I was just pumping for relief, not to feed her – it would have fit into my suitcase very nicely
Some toys, she only played with a handful and the rest we improvised with empty bottles and things
Booster seat-it stayed in the car the entire trip
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We were a little worried about the weather holding out so I brought some things to do indoors; bubbles, “52 Activities for You and Your Baby”, ipod & portable speaker, plenty of books (for me and the kiddo), my sketchpad and our mini laptop

One last thing, and I’m so glad I did this, I didn’t want to eat out for every meal so I brought a bunch of food and snacks (did I mention that I eat like the world is going to end since I started nursing?!?) Also, try to find a hotel with a kitchenette, or at least a sink and refrigerator-it’s very helpful when cleaning bottle, sippy cups and baby bowls & spoons (just remember to bring a sponge or bottle brush and some dish soap. We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club at SeaWorld Orlando and the Embassy Suites Downtown Tampa – they both had a separate kitchen area.
Here’s what I brought:
For James & I:
Homemade Granola Bars
Shredded chicken sandwiches
Raisins
Cheese & Crackers
Cut Veggies
Coconut Water (individual drink boxes)
Bread
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Kashi Chips
Homemade Trail Mix
Microwaveable Oatmeal

For Maddie:
Yogurt melts
Cheese puff type snacks
Cereal
I love to feed Maddie homemade food but on a trip, it’s not the easiest thing to transport so I had an assortment of store bought baby food (highly recommend the squeeze packets, less messy!)

So the trip was a total success! I’ll post pics in another post but for now I just wanted to let you know that we did it! We had such a great time, it was leisurely, relaxing and rewarding – everything I think a vacation should be!

Glimpse into Maddie’s world

A designated play area for Madeline

A designated play area for Madeline

Maddie having a great time

Maddie having a great time

Top of Maddie's bookcase

Top of Maddie’s bookcase

A diorama I made before Maddie was born

A diorama I made before Maddie was born

Some paintings of mine

Some paintings of mine

I just wanted to share with you Maddie’s play area and a little corner of her bedroom – these are the spaces that she spends most of her time, when we’re home. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Weekend Rewind

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I finally did it! I make gluten free pancakes. My husband is on the gluten free boat so I thought I would try my hand with something easy.
Being a lover of your traditional pancakes, I was a little skeptical on making (and enjoying) these. The consensus; they are good, not great, good. Reason being-I think, is that the almond flour I made in my food processor did not create a fine powder, I heard a Vitamix would make the consistency I am in search of but I just can’t justify spending that kind of money. The texture of the pancakes were gritty. Which was fine, it actually made them seem more savory, if that makes sense. After the whipped cream, fruit piled on top, and the maple syrup, however, in the end, it tasted more like dessert – YUM!
For the next round, I may use my coffee grinder to try and attain a more flour-like consistency. I’ll keep you posted.
Here is the link for homemade almond flour.

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Gluten free pancakes

Gluten free pancakes

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